What if Operation Eagle Claw succeeded

Ross Perot recruited the colonel who was involved with the Son Tay rescue mission for his Iran jolly. It ended better than the Vietnam mission did.

Uncommon Valor (1983) is (imho) is a (mostly fictional) retelling of how a millionaire got together with a Special Forces colonel to organize a hostage rescue. Gene Hackman plays the colonel and Robert Stack plays the millionaire. It's a very entertaining action move, and a cut above its contemporary Rambo.

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Do you mean Richard J Meadows? Attached to 22 SAS for a year - 1961/2. Served with MACV-SOG and was on the Son Tay raid. Definitely deserves an entry in the Ally thread.

Richard J Meadows.
 
The Ross Perot web site mentions a Colonel Arthur "Bull" Simons.

He enlisted a former Army colonel, Arthur "Bull" Simons, who led a 1970 raid on the Son Tay prison camp in North Vietnam to free American POWs believed held there.

The colonel had retired in 1971, but when an EDS executive made an early morning call on Jan. 2, 1979, and asked whether he’d take on the rescue attempt, Col. Simons had only one question: "When do we start?"
 

mogreby

Old-Salt
The Ross Perot web site mentions a Colonel Arthur "Bull" Simons.

He enlisted a former Army colonel, Arthur "Bull" Simons, who led a 1970 raid on the Son Tay prison camp in North Vietnam to free American POWs believed held there.

The colonel had retired in 1971, but when an EDS executive made an early morning call on Jan. 2, 1979, and asked whether he’d take on the rescue attempt, Col. Simons had only one question: "When do we start?"
Perot's rescue of his staff was the subject of a book, "On Wings of Eagles" by Ken Follett. Well worth a read.
 
An American classmate (mature student in his late 40s ex USAF HC-130/AC-130) back at Uni the 90s, took part in Eagle Claw albeit left behind in Egypt with several others as their a/c went east.
How The Iran Hostage Rescue Was Supposed To Go Down If It Hadn't Ended Early In Disaster

There were plans afterwards called Honey Badger that would involve the 82nd or 101st Abn Div then new UH-60A Blackhawk en masse to rescue the hostages etc

cheers
Entebbe was a surprise and had far fewer working parts than the American Plan. Even if the refuelling was successful, the next steps would have had to avoid more glitches (inevitable) and the embassy staff were probably lucky the rescue never reached its objective.

One thing people forget as well, is the Soviets are very close and were probably listening and aware that something was going on and I would strongly suspect the Iranians would have been tipped off, maybe not in advance, but during the operation.
 

PhotEx

On ROPS
On ROPs
The big issue with the rescue operation was too many competing chefs, with no experience of SF ops, who didn't talk to each other, with a spoon in the pot.

classic American over planning, every part of every service had to have a part, and no one person was in charge.
 
The LHA's also had AV8-B's on the deck as well.
As always the Air Combat Element (ACE) of a Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and Marine Expeditionary Unit Special Operations Capable (MEI-SoC) nowadays embarked

HMM - Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron CH-46E Sea Knight) as the primary host / in charge and full strength of a/c then

VMA Squadron x BAE / McDonnell Douglas AV-8C Harrier then AV-8B Harrier II

HMLA (Marine Light Helo Attack) 4 x Bell AH-1J/T SeaCobra then AH-1W SuperCobra and 4 x Bell UH-1N

HMH (Marine Heavy Helo Sqn) 4 x Sikorsky CH-53A/D Sea Stallion then CH-53E Super Stallion


Today

VMM Squadron — Bell-Boeing MV-22B Osprey Full squadron

VMA 4 x Boeing AV-8B Harrier II Plus

HMLA 4 x Bell AH-1Z And Bell UH-1Y

HMH 4 x Sikorsky CH-53E

Transitioning (no bad jokes here please lol)

Only change be in future

VMA be the VMFA with F-35B

HMH will be the CH-53K King Stallion

Also not unusual when the then HH-53C/H Supper Jolly Green Giant and then MH-53J Pave Low III based at then RAF Woodbridge with then 67th ARRS then 21st SOS ‚Dust Devils‘ to also be seen on an LHD like ummm attempted rescue of Beirut hostages in August 1989. At the the time USS NASSAU the resident LHA in the med had then HMM ‚Black Knights‘ with the MEU-SOC. They took off in dark of night with Pave Low leading and damn near got near the coast of Lebanon and returned as Bush canned It.

cheers
 
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Spartak1st

Old-Salt
The helicopters used were frequently used on board naval vessels - the RH-53D were navy aircraft used for minesweeping. Although usually operated off assault vessels they were used to being on carriers and as a bit of OPSEC they were partly chosen for that reason.
see also: Delta Force, C A Beckworth and D Knox, 1984
Having recently read the post-mortems and lessons learnt which are available online, apparently the Marine and Navy pilots had different operating procedures. Marine pilots would probably have kept a couple of the birds flying as they were more used to the hydraulic warning lights going off.

Also, the fitters on the carrier removed the dust filters on some of the helos.

The real prob was lack of a coherent command structure. At one stage two different COs thought they were the one in charge of the helo component of the mission.

They also put little thought into command, comms and visibility of the landing strip marshals.

To my mind, once they were rumbled by the civvies, they were stuffed. The mission at that point still relied on laying up at a hide whilst transport was brought to the assault team. This involved agents leaving the city, picking up 6 drivers, driving back to city, collecting the trucks, then driving back to the hide, before returning to the Embassy. What could possibly go wrong!
 
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PhotEx

On ROPS
On ROPs
Entebbe was a surprise and had far fewer working parts than the American Plan. Even if the refuelling was successful, the next steps would have had to avoid more glitches (inevitable) and the embassy staff were probably lucky the rescue never reached its objective.

One thing people forget as well, is the Soviets are very close and were probably listening and aware that something was going on and I would strongly suspect the Iranians would have been tipped off, maybe not in advance, but during the operation.

Probably not, the Russians were on the Iranian hate list too. At the time, the Students had also intended to sieze the Russian embassy staff, but they dropped that idea.

the story doing the rounds at the time was the the Russian Ambassador had called in the Chief student rabble rouser Mullah to tell him to call his dogs outside off. When the Mullah shrugged and said it was out of his hands to stop the students, the Russian chap casually looked at his watch and said - it’s 11.00, but if your students storm my embassy, I can assure you in 20 minutes there won’t be a Tehran.
Oddly enough, the Mullahs decided not to call him out on the threat.
 
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Having recently read the post-mortems and lessons learnt which are available online, apparently the Marine and Navy pilots had different operating procedures. Marine pilots would probably have kept a couple of the birds flying as they were more used to the hydraulic warning lights going off.

Also, the fitters on the carrier removed the dust filters on some of the helos.

The real prob was lack of a coherent command structure. At one stage two different COs thought they were the one in charge of the helo component of the mission.

They also put little thought into command, comms and visibility of the landing strip marshals.

To my mind, once they were rumbled by the civvies, they were stuffed. The mission at that point still relied on laying up at a hide whilst transport was brought to the assault team. This involved agents leaving the city, picking up 6 drivers, driving back to city, collecting the trucks, then driving back to the hide, before returning to the Embassy. What could possibly go wrong!
Hence why the Holloway Commission set up,afterwards was painful but out of it got the likes of Task Force 160, ‚Nightstalkers‘ created and then AFSOC.

cheers
 

Stan_Deesey

Old-Salt
Having recently read the post-mortems and lessons learnt which are available online, apparently the Marine and Navy pilots had different operating procedures. Marine pilots would probably have kept a couple of the birds flying as they were more used to the hydraulic warning lights going off.

Also, the fitters on the carrier removed the dust filters on some of the helos.

The real prob was lack of a coherent command structure. At one stage two different COs thought they were the one in charge of the helo component of the mission.

They also put little thought into command, comms and visibility of the landing strip marshals.

To my mind, once they were rumbled by the civvies, they were stuffed. The mission at that point still relied on laying up at a hide whilst transport was brought to the assault team. This involved agents leaving the city, picking up 6 drivers, driving back to city, collecting the trucks, then driving back to the hide, before returning to the Embassy. What could possibly go wrong!

Hi Spartak, the pilots and crews of the 53s flown in Eagle Claw were marines.

As I remember from Charlie Beckwith´s book Delta Force, (which I haven´t read in decades), after it was decided not to use the USAF´s specialist combat rescue helicopters on the mission as it was thought that relocating some of them to the Middle East would compromise security, and to use instead the naval minesweeping version of the H-53, a group of USN pilots were attached to Delta Force to train for the mission.

These pilots weren´t suitable as they had little or no experience in NOE flying, or of flying in and around mountains. Beckwith demanded that they be replaced with the best helicopter pilots in the US military. The replacement pilots came from the USMC, which made Beckwith suspect that the Marine Corps was trying to get a piece of the action.

As to the (limited) visibility of the ´marshalers´ at Desert One, this was caused by dust being blown around by the C-130 propellers. A reconnaissance mission had been flown into the area on March 31st 1980 - 3 weeks prior to the mission. The combat control officer John Carney walked the area, placed landing beacons, and collected soil samples which he took back to the US.

During the intervening three weeks a storm deposited vast amounts of dust around the area, and this had not been expected. It was a 53 pilot losing sight of his marshaler that caused the collision between his helo and a C-130.

The dust covers on the helos had been removed to save weight - again the dust storms in the area had not been anticipated.

I don´t know how much being rumbled by the civvies would have compromised the mission. All of the civilians that they detained were to be flown out of Iran, and held on the base at Masirah, and then released when the mission was completed. In the event they were left at Desert One when the mission was aborted and the US forces evacuated the area.

Retired Colonel John T. Carney wrote a book called No Room for Error which is worth a read.
 

Spartak1st

Old-Salt
Hi Spartak, the pilots and crews of the 53s flown in Eagle Claw were marines.

As I remember from Charlie Beckwith´s book Delta Force, (which I haven´t read in decades), after it was decided not to use the USAF´s specialist combat rescue helicopters on the mission as it was thought that relocating some of them to the Middle East would compromise security, and to use instead the naval minesweeping version of the H-53, a group of USN pilots were attached to Delta Force to train for the mission.

These pilots weren´t suitable as they had little or no experience in NOE flying, or of flying in and around mountains. Beckwith demanded that they be replaced with the best helicopter pilots in the US military. The replacement pilots came from the USMC, which made Beckwith suspect that the Marine Corps was trying to get a piece of the action.

As to the (limited) visibility of the ´marshalers´ at Desert One, this was caused by dust being blown around by the C-130 propellers. A reconnaissance mission had been flown into the area on March 31st 1980 - 3 weeks prior to the mission. The combat control officer John Carney walked the area, placed landing beacons, and collected soil samples which he took back to the US.

During the intervening three weeks a storm deposited vast amounts of dust around the area, and this had not been expected. It was a 53 pilot losing sight of his marshaler that caused the collision between his helo and a C-130.

The dust covers on the helos had been removed to save weight - again the dust storms in the area had not been anticipated.

I don´t know how much being rumbled by the civvies would have compromised the mission. All of the civilians that they detained were to be flown out of Iran, and held on the base at Masirah, and then released when the mission was completed. In the event they were left at Desert One when the mission was aborted and the US forces evacuated the area.

Retired Colonel John T. Carney wrote a book called No Room for Error which is worth a read.
Hi Stan,
Thanks for the informative response. Always happy to stand corrected and hear other views.

Cheers!
 

Stan_Deesey

Old-Salt
Hi Stan,
Thanks for the informative response. Always happy to stand corrected and hear other views.

Cheers!
No probs mate. I´m sure someone will be along in a minute to point out any errors that I might have made :)

I´ve always had an interest in the Eagle Claw mission since I heard about it in the news when I was at school.

The issue of the civilians is an interesting point actually. I think the actual rescue of the hostages was due to take place the night following the refuelling operation at Desert One. A busload of people having gone missing would have aroused suspicions. People might have been phoning around and reporting things like, `My granny was supposed to be visiting me today, but her bus never turned up´.
Also, besides the empty bus there would have been the burnt out wreck of a fuel truck at Desert One, after one of the US operators fired a LAW rocket into it.

The Iranian authorities might well have put two and two together, and realised the Americans were attempting a hostage rescue operation, and beefed up security in Tehran.
 

Yokel

LE
Operation Eagle Claw - Lesson Learned by Major Richard A Radvanyl USAF

Discussion: A study of Operation Eagle Claw reveals three recurring themes regarding the failure of the operation, Operations Security (OPSEC), Command and Control, and equipment reliability. The perceived need for excessive OPSEC to preserve the element of surprise caused many problems throughout the scope of the operation. Extreme compartmentalization of information among the planning staff as well as the participants in the operation caused major disruptions in the coordination of key elements in the rescue effort.

Another problem related to OPSEC was Command and Control. An ad-hoc Joint Task Force planning staff was formed, even though an existing JTF planning staff was available in the Pentagon. Because of the ad-hoc nature of the new JTF, clear lines of authority were not drawn between the planning staff and the various organizations participating in the operation.

A specifically designed and modified rescue helicopter was not available for Eagle Claw, therefore, the RH-53D was selected as the next best alternative. It was not designed for the mission it was to undertake. This fact would manifest itself at Desert One when the minimum number of helicopters would not be available to continue the mission.

Conclusion: Operation Eagle Claw failed to rescue the American hostages in Iran; however it did leave many lessons that were applied to subsequent operations. Eagle Claw’s greatest contribution was that it provided a catalyst for change in the Department of Defense.
It contributed to the development of the 1986 Goldwater-Nichols Act, and gave impetus to the creation in 1987 of the U.S. Special Operations Command.
 

Spartak1st

Old-Salt
No probs mate. I´m sure someone will be along in a minute to point out any errors that I might have made :)

I´ve always had an interest in the Eagle Claw mission since I heard about it in the news when I was at school.

The issue of the civilians is an interesting point actually. I think the actual rescue of the hostages was due to take place the night following the refuelling operation at Desert One. A busload of people having gone missing would have aroused suspicions. People might have been phoning around and reporting things like, `My granny was supposed to be visiting me today, but her bus never turned up´.
Also, besides the empty bus there would have been the burnt out wreck of a fuel truck at Desert One, after one of the US operators fired a LAW rocket into it.

The Iranian authorities might well have put two and two together, and realised the Americans were attempting a hostage rescue operation, and beefed up security in Tehran.
That was my thinking re the civvies. If bus hadnt turned up at depot someone would have noticed and presumably sent out a tow truck. Without the burnt out fuel truck there, folk would have scratched their heads long enough till mission underway.
 
Probably not, the Russians were on the Iranian hate list too. At the time, the Students had also intended to sieze the Russian embassy staff, but they dropped that idea.

the story doing the rounds at the time was the the Russian Ambassador had called in the Chief student rabble rouser Mullah to tell him to call his dogs outside off. When the Mullah shrugged and said it was out of his hands to stop the students, the Russian chap casually looked at his watch and said - it’s 11.00, but if your students storm my embassy, I can assure you in 20 minutes there won’t be a Tehran.
Oddly enough, the Mullahs decided not to call him out on the threat.
I've heard the same story and that is besides the point.... A year later, the soviets are in afghanistan and one assumes the soviet ELINT and other intelligence, would know the operation is underway and a chance to embarrass the americans, would probably have appealed to them. If the americans switch to using massive power and blast there way into Tehran, all the better from a geo-political standpoint.
 
Probably not, the Russians were on the Iranian hate list too. At the time, the Students had also intended to sieze the Russian embassy staff, but they dropped that idea.

the story doing the rounds at the time was the the Russian Ambassador had called in the Chief student rabble rouser Mullah to tell him to call his dogs outside off. When the Mullah shrugged and said it was out of his hands to stop the students, the Russian chap casually looked at his watch and said - it’s 11.00, but if your students storm my embassy, I can assure you in 20 minutes there won’t be a Tehran.
Oddly enough, the Mullahs decided not to call him out on the threat.
Which is exactly what the Yanks should have done, and indeed what any great power should do in such cases.
Gunboat diplomacy was there for a reason back in the day.
 

Stan_Deesey

Old-Salt
Do you mean Richard J Meadows? Attached to 22 SAS for a year - 1961/2. Served with MACV-SOG and was on the Son Tay raid. Definitely deserves an entry in the Ally thread.

Richard J Meadows.

Richard Meadows also had a part in Eagle Claw.

He was infiltrated into Iran prior to the mission to source vehicles to transport the SF and Delta Force operators from Desert Two to Tehran.
 
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